Revolutionary Mama by Daisy Rockwell

Revolutionary Mama is a painting from a series of paintings by Daisy Rockwell of the January-February 2011 protests against Hosni Mubarak’s dictatorship in Egypt that depicts the real-life event of women protesting in the street, armed with their children, not guns.

Many policy documents available online discuss issues like women’s rights and gender equality in the security sector in-depth. These are great resources, but “policy-speak” can be abstract and hard to relate to current issues. Sometimes it can even make your eyes glaze over.

Social media provides a great alternative to learning about these complex issues. If you are new to the field of gender and security, and to the world of UN Security Council Resolution 1325, but don’t have time to read lengthy policy papers, check out these online resources for some cutting edge perspective and concrete examples.

These free videos explain the connection between women’s rights and the Arab Spring, the challenges of addressing sexual violence in conflict in the Congo, how men are working to end violence against women in Rwanda, and the challenges women face in participating in armed forces in Pakistan.

1. Learn about the backlash against women’s rights in the Middle East/North Africa region. Watch the 30 minute documentary, Because Our Cause is Just.

Because Our Cause is Just from Deb Bergeron on Vimeo.

2. Meet Female Police Rangers in Pakistan and learn about the challenges of integrating women into the security sector:

Pakistan’s female rangers: Life on the base from on Vimeo.

3. Learn about the challenges of addressing sexual violence in armed conflict. Watch the full-length documentary, The Greatest Silence. Interviews with peacekeepers, politicians, activists, doctors, priests, and most importantly, testimony from dozens of women survivors of sexual violence provide background on the conflict and sexual violence in Congo.

4. What does a real man look like? Learn about the importance of male leadership to promote gender equality in Rwanda. Hear Fidѐle Bucyanayandi’s testimony of the abuse he inflicted on his wife, and learn how CARE is helping Fidѐle break the cycle violence in his own marriage and in his rural Rwandan community.


The Gender Advisor | What Is Security Equality?

A question I am asked often is “What does gender equality have to do with security?”

There are many scholarly books and articles that go into depth about the different impact that armed conflict has on men, women, boys and girls because of their different gender roles.

However, what does this mean in practice for a peace support operation?

To shed some light on what this means in practice, we can turn to the concept of “SECURITY EQUALITY”-a concept coined by Louise Olsson in her work on UN Peacekeeping Operations in East Timor in 2007.


Just as “political equality” for women is about improving women’s political rights and increasing the participation of women in decision-making, security equality is about  “the distribution of protection between men and women.”

Men and women are both targets of violence in a conflict, but the violence tends to take different forms for men and women. One example is the use of sexual violence, which is disproportionately directed towards women and girls, as acknowledged by UNSCR 1820.

A security forces’ strategy and choice of tactics to improve security in an area of operation without consideration of the different experiences of men and women in the conflict will result in varying degrees of protection for men and women, thereby adding to security inequality.

Therefore, the link between gender and security in practice is about how well a peace support operation can execute its mission mandate with attention to the different experiences, roles, needs and priorities of men, women, boys and girls in the area of operation.

If a main goal of the operation is to protect the local population, then security equality—the different protection needs of men, women, boys and girls—must be addressed on the ground.


The Gender Advisor | What Does a Military Gender Advisor Do?

Last year, Army Captain Eric Olson (name changed) was appointed as a “Gender Advisor” to his six-person mobile observation team in Afghanistan. When Captain Olson’s team was asked to visit a makeshift girls’ detention facility, he was glad that he had a few good women with him: the driver, the medic, and an interpreter.

When they arrived at the two-story concrete home-turned-prison, he found four girls living in relatively decent conditions, and untouched. What he wasn’t expecting to find was a room full of boys under the age of 16, forced to live and sleep in a 6 by 11 foot room with 2 known pedophiles.

Because his team included a female medic, she could examine both the boys and the girls, and interview them separately. But because NATO’s international force in Afghanistan does not have legal jurisdiction over Afghan prisons, Captain Olson could not shut the facility down.

Instead, since Captain Olson was acting as a Gender Advisor to his country’s ground force and in touch with local women’s organizations and human rights groups on a regular basis, he was able to document the children’s horrific conditions, and he was able to find assistance from bilateral donors who fund anti-trafficking aid services in Afghanistan to step in.  Through his position as a Gender Advisor, and Captain, he was able to remove the children to a safer place.

Captain Olson says, “Gender is one of the tools in my toolbox. I can bring a gun, but I can also bring other things to solve a problem.”